At least five people haven’t been found, and it’s likely that two of them are still in the partially fallen building in downtown Davenport that happened over the weekend, city officials said in an emotional hour-long news conference.
Davenport Fire Marshal Jim Morris said Tuesday morning that rescue crews are going to do another check of the building. They are trying to figure out how to do it safely, since the area is getting more dangerous.
Morris said that a structural engineer has said that rescues can’t go into the pile of rubble without making the building less stable.
At 4:30 p.m., the city said that the MABAS 43 Technical Rescue Team had searched parts of the building “that presented an acceptable risk for emergency response entry.” Several animals were saved and taken to the Scott County Humane Society, but the city said there was no sign of people.
“We want to be able to do a search to see if there are any more people or pets still inside,” Morris said Tuesday morning. “Right now, we’re working with technical rescue teams to figure out the best ways to do a second search.” Our search teams are now on the scene and checking out the building.”
At the news conference, Morris got upset.
“We’re very open to the idea that there could be two people…” Morris stopped for a moment and seemed to gather himself. From outside the room, a woman’s voice broke the silence by shouting that someone was still missing.
“That there are still two people inside,” Morris said as his voice broke.
“We want everyone to leave. And we want to do it now,” Morris said. He added that the city had to do it in a safe way, though.
Around 2:00 p.m., people in bright yellow vests and hard hats gathered in front of the building, and some were going in on the ground floor.
A woman was pulled from a fourth-floor window Monday night, about 12 hours after city officials said no one else was left inside. This led to a new search for survivors.
Lisa Brooks was found after the building fell down for more than 24 hours.
Mayor Mike Matson of Davenport said on Tuesday that he didn’t know how Brooks was missed during the first search. But he said that the rescue was a good thing and that the city wants to know how search teams, dogs, and other tools could have missed her.
The tweet below from Senator says: My staff & I are in communication w local officials about the apt building collapse
My staff & I are in communication w local officials about the apt building collapse in Davenport thx to Rescue/emergency crews Hoping for the best outcome possible after a scary evening for many Iowans
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 29, 2023
At noon on Monday, hours before Brooks was found, the city sent out a news release saying that the search was now a recovery operation instead of a rescue operation. Officials said that the building had been ordered to be torn down and that a contractor was there this afternoon to protect the property. The demolition is expected to start in the morning.
On Tuesday, the city wrote to explain that demolition “includes getting permits and setting up equipment” and that the timing of the actual demolition was still being looked at. At the time of the statement, there were hundreds of protesters in the street in front of City Hall. They wanted another search for survivors, bodies, and/or tenants’ pets.
When asked by several media if the city’s plans for physical demolition had changed, Matson said “we haven’t (demolished) it” and “our continuous evaluation of what to do or not to do happened in real time.”
But when asked if the demolition plans had changed once it was clear that someone was in the house, the fire marshal, Morris, said that there had been no signs of life until Brooks was found.
“Yes, there is always something new to learn. “At that time, none of the first responders told us that we had any of our tools or any of the dogs,” Morris said. “So, we had to move on at some point. Since this is changeable and can change, we moved to make a change as soon as we got a new sign that someone was in the building. So, we’re talking with expert rescue teams and a structural engineer to figure out how to do another search in the safest way possible.”
Tuesday, people in Davenport chanted “search and rescue” to protest the planned demolition of the partly collapsed apartment building.
Jeff Bladel, the head of the police department, said that there was a “firm belief” that two people were inside the building.
Ryan Hitchcock is one of these guys. Amy Anderson, his cousin, wrote her phone number in dust on the windshield of a stopped car so that people could help her find Ryan.
Anderson said at the news conference that she thinks Hitchcock is likely under the rubble. She asked the public to let the city handle the problem.
“Every day he stays in jail because of a delay is one too many,” Anderson said. “Ryan wouldn’t want anyone else’s life to be in danger.”
She said that city officials had told her they would “treat the remains that are under that last area with care and dig them up and bring them back as soon as possible.”
Below are some of the tweets from more professional:
Continuing to send prayers to all involved. As recovery efforts are still underway, my office has been in contact with the City of Davenport and Governor Reynolds’ office, and are prepared to assist in whatever way necessary. https://t.co/vcK7l8VRnN
— Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (@RepMMM) May 29, 2023
My team is in touch with local officials. We’re praying for all who were affected by the building collapse in Davenport. https://t.co/u4xy2otIHJ
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) May 30, 2023
“That’s what we really want. We don’t want a full-scale destruction or a full-scale delay that could cause that building to fall down even more,” she said.
She said later that she doesn’t agree with the city in every way, but that her biggest concern is that Hitchcock is respected.
“There is no way to win,” she said, “but this is the best way to go about it.”
Outside the room where the news conference was held, the family of the second missing person, Branden Colvin, could be heard pleading with the city to keep looking for Colvin.
Officials think that two people are probably in the building, but there are still three people who haven’t been found. Bladel said that city workers were looking at old names of tenants and trying to get in touch with them to find out if those three people could be in the building.
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Officials stressed that the building is still not physically sound and is very close to falling down.
At the news conference, Larry Sandhaas of Shive Hattery, who was hired by the city to help with the building, said that they planned to use a scanning drone to make a “complete digital 3D model” of the building.
The city would be able to figure out “what, where, and why” with the help of the 3D model. It would be used to “evaluate its condition and the likelihood of its collapse in the future.”
Matson said that the city is working with the Humane Society to figure out what to do about the pets in the building. He also said that if first responders go into parts of the building, “first responders will go back in to see if we can save lives.”
At least two cats had been taken out of homes that had to be evacuated by 1:30 p.m.
So far, nine people have been saved from the building. One of them was partly buried in rubble and had to be dug out.
The city says that building officials are setting up tools and getting permits so that the building can be torn down, but it’s not clear when that could happen.
There are barriers around the building, but people can sometimes get as close as 100 feet.
Protesters gathered in front of the building before and after Brooks was saved to ask city leaders to keep looking for other missing people.
The building from the early 1900s was inspected twice this year, once in February and again last week, according to city officials.
At the news conference, City Neighborhood Services Director Rich Oswald said that the building owner paid a company called Select Structural Engineering to look at it. That company found that the building was safe enough to work on while people were still living there.
When asked if the city was happy with the engineering reports, Oswald said, “The chief building official was happy with what the engineer said, including what repairs were needed and how they were to be made.”
Matson said that information about the event, such as photos, videos, and logs, would be given to a team that would look into it.
“The leader of that team hasn’t been chosen yet, but we’re talking to state officials about what to do next,” Matson said.
If you used to live in the building and need help,
The Red Cross has moved into the old Select Specialty Hospital building at 111 W. Kimberly Road in Davenport.
People who were affected by the building fall or the order to evacuate can go to this new location starting at noon on Wednesday to get information, a place to stay, meals, phone charging stations, health and mental health services, and one-on-one support.
Call 800-RED-CROSS at any time.
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